‘Waiting for Him to Die’: Black Oregon Middle School Student Tied Up and Forced to Act Out Floyd’s Final Moments, District Criticized for Its Response

A Black family in Portland, Oregon, is upset their eighth-grade son was the victim of a racist attack and was forced to “do the George Floyd.”

The parents of the affected student are also calling out the school district for not taking the incident seriously.

“This is an unimaginable act of hate that happened to my son, and something needs to happen, and we need some answers,” the student’s father, Raheem Alexzander told KOIN.

According to news reports, the alleged incident happened on Jan. 18 at West Sylvan Middle School. The unnamed Black eighth-grade student was allowed to get water from the hallway water fountain. As the student went to use the fountain, two other students confronted him.

“They pushed him up against a wall, they bound his hands behind his back, and told him they were doing a George Floyd on him,” Alexzander told KATU.

Once tied up, the student was reportedly placed on the floor to reenact George Floyd’s final moments.

“From there, the students were acting like they were police officers, saying that they were going to turn off their chest camera,” Alexzander said to Oregon Live.

“One of the kids had a hall pass on a lanyard and proceeded to tie his hands behind his back,” he continued.

The reenactment continued mimicking the actions of Minneapolis officers towards George Floyd.

“They put him face down on the ground with his hands behind his back, they proceeded to put a knee in his back. One of the students said to him that now they were turning off the body camera and they’re going to wait 20 seconds,” Alexzander said.

“It hurt so bad to hear these things coming out of his mouth,” Alexzander added.

West Sylvan Middle School is 67 percent white, and 32 percent of its students are non-white. Black students make up 3.4 percent, according to U.S. News.

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Derek Chauvin was charged in connection to George Floyd’s murder. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison. (Photos: Screenshot of cellphone video of incident/Chauvin’s mugshot)

During Floyd’s fatal police encounter, he was pinned down while handcuffed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s back as Floyd yelled “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. The apprehension led to Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. Chauvin was later convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He is currently serving a 21-year prison sentence.

“They were acting as if my son was George Floyd, waiting for him to die,” Alexzander said.

KATU reports the school’s principal notified parents of the incident a week later in a Jan. 25 letter.

“I am deeply saddened to share that West Sylvan experienced a horrific hate-based incident last week. Because this is an ongoing investigation involving students, we are limited in what we are able to communicate to families,” Principal Jill Hunt said in a statement.

The letter went on to say the students involved received “appropriate disciplinary action” and counselors will work with students on “anti-racist lessons.”

In a statement, Portland Public Schools said the district “stands firmly against any hateful acts in our schools or community.”  

The student’s parents felt the district waiting to respond publicly was unsatisfactory. They said the school district declined to issue a districtwide statement citing the ongoing investigation and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

“We didn’t ask them to release any of the student’s names, but we felt the entire district needed to know. We didn’t want it to be hidden. Hiding it makes them complicit in the act,” the student’s mother Angela Canton said.

Oregon Live confirmed the students who attacked the Black eighth grader have been expelled.

“Is it a learned behavior? So what help or counseling is going to be provided to (either of the perpetrators) so he doesn’t do something like this again? If you are just removing him, that doesn’t solve anything,” Canton said of the school’s discipline decision.

“It’s unfortunate that it had to happen to my son, but hopefully this will deter this from happening to anybody else’s kids.

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